Thanksgiving Traditions

My last class before Thanksgiving break was MUSC 100, which is rehearsal time for University Chorale. It was a mostly normal rehearsal. We were getting ready for our Holiday Happening concert, but what happened afterward was really special.

As a few friends and I were walking out of the Pope Chapel, we were talking about our plans for Thanksgiving break, and we were reminiscing about our favorite traditions. One thing that was special about that rehearsal was when our (amazing) choir director, Dr. Irving, asked us to all share our favorite Thanksgiving foods. Some people like the simpler things like apple and pumpkin pie, but then there were some people that talked about really unique foods that their family makes that I have never heard of.

Something funny that happened was about half of the people in the ensemble said that their favorite food at Thanksgiving was their mom’s green bean casserole, so we all had a laugh every time someone mentioned it. My personal favorite food is my homemade cannoli dip, always a crowd pleaser, and it’s easy to make.

My friends and I, right before we parted ways, gave each other hugs and said we would miss one another over the short break. We all became very self-aware of how mushy that moment was and now we joke about it.

Moments like those are really special to me and are reasons why I love being at Christopher Newport University, and that’s why I’m a Captain for life.

Checking out ‘Mr. Burns’

A few weeks ago, the Theater and Dance Department put on its rendition of “Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play.” I’ve always been drawn to theater and I often go to almost all of Christopher Newport’s productions, but this one in particular grabbed my interest. The premise is a world following some sort of huge catastrophe and a group of survivors who begin biding their time reminiscing about old “Simpsons” episodes. Now, if that doesn’t peak your interest, I’m not sure what will.

I texted my friends to gauge their interest. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only were my theater friends intrigued, but my fraternity brothers also wanted to tag along! We decided to make a day of it. We got lunch at Regattas, went shopping downtown in Newport News and then came back to enjoy the play in the evening. The performance was incredibly surreal. Truly, hats off to everyone involved as the staging, acting and design were all superb. As my friends and I departed the theater, we enthusiastically discussed our favorite moments and elements. Simply put, it was a great way to spend a Friday.

I think what impresses me most about that day isn’t even the play itself. It’s more so how, at Christopher Newport, the next good day is always just around the corner. Things always feel to come together so perfectly here, sort of like a well-produced play. I never feel as though I’m bored or have nothing to do. Theater has always been an important outlet of expression for me, and it’s great to still be able to dabble in that world on a regular basis. There’s something for everyone at Christopher Newport. We have things we’re comfortable with, but we also have things that are new and exciting. The weekend is coming up, and I’m so excited to make some brand new memories with my friends on the campus I love so much.

My First Mentoring Visit

Earlier in the semester, I wrote about Psi Upsilon’s Friends of Phi Nu program which I was very excited to start being a part of. If you missed that post, Friends of Phi Nu is one of our philanthropy initiatives wherein each brother is assigned a student to mentor at nearby Hidenwood Elementary. It’s a great opportunity for both the brother and the student to form a meaningful and constructive bond.

Last Friday, I had my first visit and finally met my student! He was an absolute blast and it was also a lot of fun to meet his friends and share some laughs during lunch time. It’s definitely been a while since I’ve been in an elementary classroom; I had forgotten how colorful everything was. (They should really think about designing our college classrooms like that.) Anyway, we worked hard on some English assignments and enjoyed a bit of light reading. I was there for a good few hours, but they flew by. In fact, I was so surprised when the bell rang I wasn’t sure if that was really for our dismissal or not!

This opportunity is definitely the start of what I hope will be a very positive and significant experience. It was such a joy to be a part of the class for the day and I hope my student had as much fun as I did. I’m looking forward to going back on a weekly basis and developing our relationship further. I can’t wait!

Small School, Small World

I am a local student. I was born in Norfolk, lived in Suffolk for eight years, moved to Chesapeake and then Portsmouth, so I know this area pretty well. When I came to Christopher Newport, I experienced a lot of different people and ways of living to which I had been previously exposed.

I quickly learned that there is a large population of people from northern Virginia (NoVA as they call it) here, and their culture is so much different compared to that of Hampton Roads. One unfortunate thing, as a local student, is that when I go home for breaks, there really isn’t anyone I know from school to hang out with. I love all of my friends here, but I have to limit myself to texts and FaceTime over breaks.

But during Thanksgiving break, something awesome happened. I was back at my parent’s house in Chesapeake, and I went to the store to buy a new pair of shoes, and I SAW SOMEONE FROM CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT. “What do I do?” I thought. This has never happened before!

I wasn’t particularly friends with the guy that I saw. We sit next to each other in choir rehearsal, but don’t talk much because we are different voice parts. Though, when we saw each other in the store, we immediately recognized each other and started up a conversation, and now we are pretty good friends. We bonded over being from the same area.

Christopher Newport is such an awesome university, and I love getting to know all of my fellow Captains. As my time here grows longer, I’m starting to realize that there are more Captains like me than I thought.


We are expected to fulfill certain liberal learning credits, which means we must explore courses outside of our declared or intended major to help make us a well-rounded individual. In particular, each student is required to take a few courses in a foreign language. At first I viewed this requirement as an unnecessary obstacle to graduating, but I have come to find great value in studying Italian.

As a disclaimer, I’ve always struggled with learning foreign language, especially when it came to memorizing the different vocabulary. I decided once I got here that I wanted to study Italian because I knew a little from my experience with music and was looking to potentially study abroad later in my academic career.

When I first met my Italian professor, I expressed my concern. She was extremely supportive and gave several ideas to assist with learning Italian. She first started showing me several free websites that had unique tactics to help with memorization. Then she also encouraged me to join the Italian club, which held events and had speaking times related to the culture. She also personally held speaking sessions which included a half hour of conversation in Italian. Finally, she also helped me contact the Italian tutor here on campus, whom I could meet with each week to review pronunciation and grammar.

I truly enjoy my foreign language class and I am grateful to have been apart of the experience despite my initial hesitation. I understand the value and beauty of Italian, and have learned innovative tactics to study new material. I am glad to have met my wonderful Italian professor, and I have a deep respect for learning new cultures.

Back Home at CNU

Gosh, I missed this place. When I left my parent’s house to come back to Christopher Newport after Thanksgiving, I unknowingly said, “I’m going home” and it made me think a lot. This place really is my home, and now my parent’s house is my home away from home.

One thing almost all Captains love about Christopher Newport is the sense of community, lovingness and togetherness that is fostered here. Your first year you get exposed to new people and ideas. By your second year you have become acquainted with your college family. In your third and fourth years you focus on building up yourself and all of your relationships to be the best version of yourself you can possibly be.

We spend so much time here that our friends turn into our family. My friends are always there for me when I need them, whether it be getting lunch together or picking me up when I’m feeling down, Captains always care for each other.

When I went home for Thanksgiving break, all I could talk about to my family was college and my friends and how much I love this place. When it was time to go home, I think I made my mom was a bit sad when I said that I was “going home.” But it’s true, Christopher Newport is where I call home. I’m growing up, and I’m outgrowing my parent’s house.

I still love them, but we are nearing that time when their little Captain has to move on to another ship.

Percussion Ensemble: More Than Just Drums

On November 14, our Percussion Ensemble held its first concert of the year in the wonderful Peebles Theatre. Originally, I had not planned to go, because I didn’t know when (or what) it was. That was until I found out that my section leader in the University Chorale was a part of the Percussion Ensemble and he told me that they were having a performance. I had to go and support him, and I didn’t regret it at all.

The whole idea of a musical group consisting of nothing but percussion confused me at first. I was wondering how drums and other things you beat can sound different, but I was quickly shown how great percussion is that night. While I may not know any of the names of those instruments, it was very evident that each iteration of the drum on stage made a unique sound, and each piece they performed sounded completely different than the last, not to mention all of the musicians on stage were extremely talented.

What really impressed me was that there seemed to be about 30 instruments on stage, but there were fewer than 10 people performing. Throughout the performance, they would spontaneously switch instruments and continue playing seamlessly. I was so impressed with the multitasking abilities of the performers, they were all great. In one of the pieces, there was a girl on stage who was literally playing six instruments at once. I could not help but give a standing ovation.

Christopher Newport is such an amazing place, with so many great and talented people. I feel so privileged to be a part of a university that embraces music and encourages its students to get involved. You would think that most people in the music ensembles are music majors, but that’s not always the case. I am a Spanish and communication major in the University Chorale, and my section leader in the Chorale is an economics major, and not only is he a singer in our choir, but he’s also one of the best percussionists I know. I’m so happy to support my fellow Captains, and I love knowing that we are all extremely well-rounded and supportive of each other.

Setting Sail for an InternSHIP

I am in the President’s Leadership Program. One of the requirements to complete the program is getting an internship. That scared me a lot because the idea that I could be working unpaid isn’t in the cards for me (I have bills to pay!).

I have attended a few workshops on campus for internships, career fairs and also have talked to people at the Center for Career Planning, and they gave me so much knowledge about internships. It turns out that there are quite a few internships that are paid, and they actually pay really well! In addition, there are a bunch of opportunities right around Christopher Newport, most notably in the Newport News Shipyard and Riverside Hospital. We also have a great job and intern-searching website called Handshake. I have used it to get both of my on-campus jobs, and it has been helping me discover internships in the area.

One of my good friends is an accounting major, and he has an internship at an accounting firm that pays really really well. I didn’t want to ask him how much it paid, but just know that he offered to buy me an entire pizza one time, just because. Internships aren’t all about money, it’s about learning and getting experience, but getting a paycheck in addition to that experience is never a bad thing. I’m still in the process of finding the right internship for me and having it match my availability, but I know that I will find one.

At Christopher Newport, there’s always someone here to help you navigate uncharted waters.